Build a Simple Grow Light!

7 01 2017

I had hoped for one for Christmas; a real nice grow light that will get our plants a proper start.  Our front window got a good amount of lights when the time came but it was also quite warm.  This made our (and will make YOUR) plants that you grow from seed, become leggy (tall, gangly and weak).  Putting up a grow light in a cooler place has been described as the way to get healthier seedlings.  As I have started to enjoy buying seeds instead of transplants, I have been looking for a way to get them started off well and having a little station to do that, seemed like a great idea!

The cheapest 4ft light and stand was 102$ not including the bulbs..  That was more than the wife was willing to spend and more than I felt was necessary for what it is.

Turns out i did not get it for christmas.  So decided it was time to find and make something cheaper instead.  Thank you internet! It took no time to find a plan and 8 minutes to watch a video.  Shopping for the stuff was a breeze and building it took, literally 25 minutes.

The result?


The 59$ grow light

What you need to buy to make what you see here:

1 10ft length of 1″ pvc pipe

2 1″ elbow joints

2 1″ t joints

1 shoplight (T12).  This is just the cheapest flourescent light fixture Lowes sold

To finish off this grow light properly, and if you would actually want to use it, you would have to buy 2 T12 flourescent light bulbs.  A timer is also a capital idea (more on that later)

A note on the lights:  Apparently you can buy flourscent bulbs (and fixtures) that are T5, T8, and T12.  As the number goes down the wattage increases and the light output of the lights you use will increase.  Most grow stands that are sold online and designed to grow plants use T5 lights exclusively.  I was tempted to go with a T8 fixture to boost the light output but I did this, first and foremost, for economics and the T8 fixture was almost $70.   A lot folks on the youtube said that T12 will totally do for a hobbyist who is not pumping out hundreds and hundreds of plants and so I went with the cheapest (T5 bulbs are, apparently, about 5x the cost of T12 bulbs).

Basic directions:

1. Cut the piping into lengths that are

14″ (2)

11″  (2)

9″  (2)

52″  (1)


2.  Put the elbow joints on the ends of the long piece (make sure they are oriented the same way).

3.  Starting with the shortest lengths (9″) as the vertical supports, put the other lengths of pipe into the T joint.

4. Put the elbow joints into the 9 inch vertical supports and voila!

The original design I used had the vertical legs at 14 inches and all other legs at 9.5 inches.  It made sense to me to have 3 different possible heights for the light (hence the pairs of different lengths).  Each pair of legs can be alternately used as the vertical support to easily raise or lower the light (ie. Start with the 9 inchers and change them out for the 11 inchers once the plants need the size.)

While a timer seems superfluous and one may think that turning it off and on is no big deal, to be able to control the exact amount of time a light is on without having to think of it is a pretty awesome.  And as for the time, well, it is important to note that plants mainly photosynthesize during the day and mainly respire at night (doing some of both at both times).  The darkness IS important for plants do that respiration.  Most reasonable sites I have spoken to recommend that once seedlings are up and going, 12-14 hours of light is the maximum.

If you are a veggie grower and have seeds, I cannot recommend this little project enough. It is crazy easy to put together and, assuming the lighting works as well as I hope, will be INVALUABLE asset in your young plants lives.




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